The sneaky history of stealth games

Commandos – 1998
The Commandos series is an RTS where you play as a group of Allied soliders in WWII. Two members of the six-person squad - the sniper and spy - utilize stealth abilities to complete their objectives.

Silent Hill series – 1999-2008
This survival horror series gives you the willies and the ability to sneak around nightmarish beasts. In order to preserve ammo (and your life), you can dodge enemies in the thick fog. Also, if you turn your flashlight off, you can avoid detection.

Syphon Filter series – 1999-2007
Known for being an action series, SF only really counts in the stealth department because there are a number of ways you can get the drop on enemies. Our favorites are the first game’s taser and Dark Mirror’s darts.

Winback – 1999
Gameplay lets you take cover behind corners and objects. When you duck out to shoot, you can’t move. Rather, you control the aiming reticule and decide where to shoot your enemy.

Deus Ex series – 2000-2009
The original was a triumph in merging FPS elements with role-playing. Augmenting your character gave him skills in everything from combat to computer hacking. With sophisticated AI that attacked in groups, you often had to rely on stealth lest you get peppered with lead. However, the game design was dynamic enough to give you the choice of how you played. Do you want to lock pick that door for safe passage? Or go in guns blazing? A marvel in emergent gameplay.

Hitman series – 2000-Present
As the impressively bald Agent 47, you’ll have to pull off all kinds of risky assassinations in a variety of ways - from impersonating a birthday clown to replacing a prop gun during an opera with the real thing. The less alerts and more elaborate the kill; the more you’re awarded at the end of the mission. Also, the first 3D stealth game where you could obtain and wear disguises.

Incredible Crisis – 2000
It might be racist of us to remark that the Japanese have a wackier mindset than most Americans or Brits, but after playing through IC we dare you not to think that. Split into all sorts of minigames about one family trying to get through the most insane day ever, some missions involve stealth. Our favorite: switching seats with kids in a classroom so the teacher doesn’t notice. If he does, he fires a chunk of chalk at your face.

No One Lives Forever series – 2000-2002
Set in the ‘60s, NOLF is a parody/homage to British spy culture without going the unfunny slapstick route of Austin Powers. Most missions can be completed in multiple ways - guns blazing, stealth or a mixture of the two.

Paper Mario – 2001
Mario’s wafer-thin N64 opus was more of a straight-up action/RPG. However, in between the chapters you’d take control of our favorite kidnappable princess and sneak out of her room, avoiding detection by the guards and sneak to the kitchen (we’ll avoid an easy joke here). Basically she needs to bake a cake that’ll help restore Mario’s health in battle.

Fatal Frame series – 2001-2008
This survival horror series pitting you and a camera against ghosts is less focused on stealth and more on adventure. You don’t necessarily hide from the specters, but there are moments where you can avoid them.

Operation Flashpoint – 2001
Less reliant on stealth, OF is a hyper-realistic and extremely tactical war game.


  • paulo-junior - January 9, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    Great list. Only it missed Shadow of Rome.
  • crazyqazqaz - February 7, 2009 4:50 p.m.

    Oh come on!! All Ghillied Up in CoD 4 was amazing! I've played that level at least 20 times!!
  • deathrebellion - February 5, 2009 10:18 p.m.

    Awesome list though U did include useless titles
  • TastyCakesMcgee - February 5, 2009 3:36 a.m.

    TF2 forever!
  • game_over - February 4, 2009 10:57 p.m.

    GoldenEye64 has co-op? Yes.
  • noobeater - February 4, 2009 10:16 p.m.

    great article....i really want to play shadow of collosus or watevere its called since i began looking at this mighty website anyway one you missed was SOCOM:us navy seals...i only played first one but get on ship...shoot out lights...silently knife people...every gun having a silencer getting intel or hostages means getting there quietly or the run/get destroyed/killed also in prison lvl u can make an diversion by setting a bomb at the wall and then running to the prison add it...i wanna be a part of it lol great article all the same most of these games=legends in their own right
  • Jbo87 - February 4, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    I really enjoyed Sniper Elite. As mentioned pulling off a brilliant shot was ultra satisfying and if you could time your shot to an artillery blast then the other enemies wouldn't hear it, hard to do but it felt like a real achievement. It also had a coop mode which worked really well. Getting both players into good positions and picking off guards at the smae time was quality. Definitely a game that could do with a sequel. Next-gen sniping, with explosive headshots would be awesome.
  • game_over - February 4, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    Goldeneye64; Has anyone else, ever, played the co-op mode that was built into the game?
  • aequitas13 - February 4, 2009 2:04 p.m.

    Going through the list again... In addition to Thief, kudos for NOLF, Riddick, SotC, RE4, Bioshock, and Commandos (should read 1998 - love for Commandos 2 or 3?)
  • Sash - February 4, 2009 1:43 p.m.

    Wow, its either very good or very sad that I have played ALL of these games o.o
  • GreyGhost - February 4, 2009 1:31 p.m.

    Good list but ... You forgot Stolen for the PS2 ... Fun game ...
  • averagejoe - February 4, 2009 3:47 a.m.

    Didn't Eternal Darkness have an invisibility spell? And I seem to remember some sneaking about in Chrono Trigger (the prison) and certainly there are stealth elements in Mirror's Edge. Heck, Mario 64 even had stealth to some degree: he could sneak up on sleeping piranha plants or turn invisible to evade enemies with the vanish cap. So..... there!
  • AMayer - February 4, 2009 3:16 a.m.

    I remember I used to play GoldenEye for so long that shotting people in the back of the noggin became second nature.
  • game-thugsta - February 4, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    Snake is and always will be the king of stealth... and in general the best video game character ever.
  • Red - February 4, 2009 1:11 a.m.

    If I had to pick two things that I absolutely hate about games, it would be mandatory stealth sections and mandatory protect the NPC missions. Games that force you to stay hidden AND keep your companions alive/hidden are the wosrt of all. There's almost nothing more irritating than being almost finished with a mission/level only to turn around and find your dumbass companion standing out in the open. MISSION FAILED.
  • cart00n - February 4, 2009 12:47 a.m.

    Not usually a big fan of "stealth games" - there are far too many other, cheaper ways to aggravate myself! However, BG&E was awesome. Assassins' Creed was a whole lot of fun, too.
  • Montag - February 4, 2009 12:39 a.m.

    No System Shock 2? Good call on Deus Ex tho..... Stealth if you like, not because you have to... nice
  • WaldoOfWhere - February 4, 2009 12:22 a.m.

    OMG What About Rainbow Six Vegas or did I miss IT.
  • AnonymouZ - February 3, 2009 11:12 p.m.

    gigglesnort* sneakily
  • rocketfuel - February 3, 2009 10:16 p.m.

    Another game I know is missing from that list is Shadow of Rome. When you took a break from chopping off limbs you'd play as octavian and sneak around hiding from Roman soldiers or killing them and stealing their outfits but otherwise great list. I'm a huge fan of bethesda and the stealth in their games.

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